Actually, it’s not raining, but it may as well be. Compared to California, Jerusalem is hella humid. Ok, compared to California, most places are hella humid. I hear it will rain in Jerusalem and that, when it does, I will really wish I had schlepped my rain boots from Philly.
“That same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, went into the ark, with Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons—they and all beasts of every kind, all cattle of every kind, all creatures of every kind that creep on the earth, and all birds of every kind, every bird, every winged thing. They came to Noah into the ark, two each of all flesh in which there was breath of life. Thus they that entered comprised male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him. And God shut him in. The Flood continued forty days on the earth, and the waters increased and raised the ark so that it rose above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark drifted upon the waters.“ (Genesis 7:13-19)
In some ways, a plane doesn’t seem so different from an ark. Sure, an airplane floats in the sky while an ark floats in the newly-created sea, but from the point of view of a passenger there isn’t much difference. Once a plane is high enough off of the ground, all that a passenger can usually see, if lucky enough to be in a window seat, is a layer of cloud. The passenger has no control over the weather, over the bumps, over the ability of the pilot.
The passenger floats in a box in the sky. Noah floats in a box in the sea. The box is the invader. The water and the air were there before and will be there after. The box is temporary.
I want to do my best to remember that. My time in the Israel box is temporary. My time in the rabbinical school box is temporary. On a macro level, my time in the life box is temporary. And each box is floating in forces that I know and forces that I don’t.
God shut Noah into the ark, but only because Noah built the ark and welcomed the animals into it. Noah ultimately chose to do as God asked. What would have happened had he refused? Would God have found another servant, another one righteous enough to carry on the human race without hitting a complete reset? Would Noah instead be Clark? Or Duncan? Or Jennifer? Nah, God didn’t much like girls back then. Probably Duncan.
Ultimately, Noah said yes to the ark. I said yes to Jerusalem. And no, obviously I’m not trying to equate my choice to study here as part of my rabbinic training with our mythical ancient seafaring ancestor’s choice to save his life by getting on an ark while God trashed everything else. I’m just noting that both of us made a choice, and that remembering that can offer some strength. Nobody forced me to walk onto the plane in San Jose, or onto the plane in Minneapolis, or onto the plane in New York. For that matter, nobody forced me to get up and go to orientation this morning.
I’m glad that I did get up and go. This has, after all, been such a long time coming. I have known that I would be studying in Israel since I started at RRC– really since I was admitted four and a half years ago. I have had so long to dream and dread this journey. Now, for better or for worse, I am in it. The ark is floating along. And I even found my first pair of animals.
More to come. For now, jet lag is winning, and I must do my best to thwart it. Tomorrow is a long day.